A basic guide to the most common types of digital connection


Infrared is a type of electromagnetic wave that is used for communication in many modern gadgets, most notably the remote control. It works by carrying a signal, which is attached to the wave by the original device and is decoded by the receiving device. For example, the remote control works by sending a signal to the television that instructs it what to do. The television reads this signal and carries out the instructions. Other than the remote control, infrared is used in laptops, computers and PDAs for communication.

As an EM wave, Infrared does not need cabling to connect to a device and instead is wireless, hence why it is a 'digital' connection. Though, a noticeable disadvantage is that the signal is blocked by physical obstructions, so it cannot connect to devices if the visible path is blocked.

Infrared can be used to transfer data, audio and video to digital devices, and has an average data transfer speed of between 4 and 120 bits per second.


Bluetooth is a wireless connection used to transfer data, audio and video between mobile devices over short distances. It does this using short radio wave transmissions, which have frequencies of between 2400 and 2480 MHz. In order to transfer data, digital devices must first connect to one another. Bluetooth is commonly found in smartphones, mobile phones, laptops, computers, headsets, intercoms and video game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and PS Vita. For example, you could use Bluetooth to connect a laptop computer to a printer and print a document wirelessly.